How about riding 500 miles a day for 14 days straight and then each night sleeping on the ground? For some it’s just the kind of thing that makes it onto a “bucket list” and they’re ready to go. For others it creates a moment of pause.
Endurance riders sometimes engage in endurance events known as rallies. Rallies take on a multitude of formats, differing in duration (anywhere from 12 hours to multiple days) and type of road.
That was the situation yesterday for about 1000 riders at the start of the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. Riders left Key West, FL., exclusively on Harley-Davidson motorcycles headed for Homer Alaska. Grueling ride? Absolutely! But, the challenge has the added benefit for the rider who travels the 7,000 miles first — they’ll win $500,000.
According to urban legend the term “Hoka Hey,” means “It’s a Good Day to Die” in Sioux. In reality this is a corruption of the intrepretation. The reason people think it means “it’s a good day to die” is that the Lakota Sioux leader Crazy Horse famously shouted to his troops “Hokahey, today is a good day to die!” It meant something more like “Let’s go men, today is a good day to die!”
At any rate, the challenge is billed as an annual once-in-a-lifetime challenge where the contestants’ mettle will be tested. Co-founders Beth Durham and Jim “Big Jim” Red Cloud describe the Hoka Hey Challenge not as a speed race. It’s about endurance. Besides John Ryan holds the record for a continent crossing where last year he performed a crossing in 86 hours and 31 minutes. The Hoka Hey contestants pay a $1,000 entry fee. They can have their miles sponsored for charity, much like a marathon.The route will span two countries, over more than 62 mountain ranges, 33 Indian reservations, 25 national forests, 8 deserts and 6 national parks. The daily routes are secret until each morning during the 14 days. The first checkpoint is somewhere in Mississippi.
I don’t know if this is the “Olympics” of all endurance rallies, but none-the-less good luck riders!
UPDATE: June 28, 2010 — According to reports out of Homer, AK, Frank Kelly, of Prosperity, S.C., and Will Barclay, of Highland, Fla., rode under the finish banner on the Homer Spit after finishing the Hoka Hey Challenge this morning (Monday). The two men who’d only met on the road made a pact in Fairbanks when they left the last checkpoint about 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon: they’d finish first together. Kelly, 34, works for AT&T and Barclay, 50, flies corporate jets. Kelly rode a 2009 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic and Barclay a 2008 Electroglide Classic he bought three weeks before the race — his first Harley ever. Congrats!
UPDATE: July 7, 2010 — Allegations of fraud and questions on the legitimacy of the organization and winner payout prompt the first legal complaint. Formally filed with the State of Florida’s Attorney General against the Hoka Hey Challenge and its organizers Beth and Jim Durham of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Jim Durham also goes by the name of Jim Red Cloud. More information about the complaint HERE.
UPDATE: August 3, 2010 — Excellent interview with Will Barclay, the winner of the endurance race HERE. H-D should do a commercial and leverage this guy! A shout out to Quick Throttle Magazine for making it available!
Photos courtesy of Hoka Hey web site, Andy Newman and The Citizen.